A good horror story is even more chilling if it’s true.
Whichever way it may have been portrayed, either through books, movies, or other mediums, the fact remains the same; the events that occurred were once upon a time someone’s haunting reality. In this case, it was the realities of the Defeo and Lutz families during their time in the Amityville home in New York.
Being lovers of anything and everything that is horror, we’ve all read The Amityville Horror book and we’ve watched several movies based on it as well. And even though we always watch it knowing it’s based on a true story, it’s sometimes; more often than not, hard to believe that everything that is happening in the movie or the book is in fact the ground reality. Well, we’re here to burst that bubble and give you a truth bomb. Many of the parts that were portrayed were heavily transformed over the years and several fictional elements were actually added into it to make it scarier and fictionally powerful. We do understand why there was a need to do so, you can’t possibly make the entire movie or book based on all true events. Because what people feel in real life can hardly ever be shown exactly how it is, hence the exaggeration.
Luckily, we are here! And we will tell you what really happened based on the actual documented interviews and archived folders. So, if you’re as big of a horror genre fan as you claim to be, scroll down and check out the real story behind the Amityville Horror!
The house where it all started.
This house is located in a suburban neighborhood in Amityville which is why it’s known as the Amityville house. However, its original name is 112 Ocean Avenue, and it’s a Dutch-Colonial-style home. This house was constructed by European settlers in the USA, in a way in which it reminds them of their past homes. The gambrel roof gives it a barn-ish look. Double-hung sash windows, the Dutch door, and the wood shutters complete the look! This was a 3-story house, with a basement! It was built in 1924. Yep, it’s less than a 100-years old.
The DeFeo Family
The DeFeo family lived in the Amityville house for 9 years. It was all too well until all but one of them were found dead! All of the 6 family members were killed around 3 AM. This happened on the 13th of November, in 1974.
Their murderer? None other than Ronald DeFeo Jr. (in the picture: on the far right, in red shirt).
Ronald DeFeo Jr. Aka Ronnie
Ronnie was the eldest son of the DeFeo family. He was only 23 when this incident took place. Ronnie is responsible for killing all 4 of his siblings and his parents.
The news of this murder spread when Ronnie ran into a neighborhood bar claiming that his parents have been shot dead. The Suffolk County Police was quick to arrive at the scene and was also accompanied by many bar patrons. It was only then when all the family members were found dead. Neither did Ronnie claim that his siblings were injured, too, and nor did he tell anyone who the culprit was.
His confession came after he was taken to the police station for questioning. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It happened so fast,” he said. Ronnie then admitted that he had taken a shower, changed his clothes, and hid the weapon which was a rifle, as well as the bloody clothes. He was then imprisoned and his trial began a year after.
In 1975, October, a year after the murder, DeFeo’s trial began. The prosecutor’s psychiatrist claimed Ronnie knew what he was doing. He also diagnosed Ronnie with antisocial personality disorder, which can also be roughly translated to sociopathic behavior. Meanwhile, Ronnie’s lawyer and psychiatrist tried to convince the jury and judge that he murdered his family because he heard voices and they forced him to do so. They tried to plea for insanity but they failed miserably and Ronnie was convicted of 6 counts of second-degree murder. All the appeals and requests for parole were denied until he eventually died in custody in March of 2021.
The Lutz Family
George and Kathy Lutz were newly married and hence, got a great deal on the house. They moved into 112 Ocean Avenue in December of 1975, with Kathy’s 3 children from her previous marriage. At the time, the house was empty for only 13 months, the total time of Ronnie’s imprisonment.
The house didn’t cost them much
The house only cost them around $80,000 at the time. They bought the DeFeo family’s furniture as well with an added amount of $400. George and Kathy preferred keeping their furniture and disposed of their own old furniture. Despite being fully aware of what had taken place in the Amityville house before they moved in, they did not shy away from it. They were not superstitious and decided to go ahead with the deal and moved in. But before doing so, they did have the house blessed by a priest from the Diocese of Rockville, Father Ray. He was the same priest who had helped George annul his first marriage. Both Kathy and George were not religious. They were both non-practising Catholic and Methodist, respectively.
But, little did they know. The house that may have felt nothing but ordinary, held more secrets than they could ever have imagined.
The start of the doom
It was soon after the move-in when strange things started happening with the Lutz family. Normally, people usually brush it off, thinking it’s nothing but a coincidence. However, this was something a little too extreme.
It began when the Lutz family’s dog, Harry, was hung by his leash in an attempt to flee the house by jumping over the fence. Harry did survive but the strange events didn’t stop there. The family could hear scratching noises and footsteps from random parts of the house. They even felt cold spaces and could smell disgusting odors. All of this was unexplainable!
An incident reported narrates how George would wake up to loud noises that sounded exactly like the front door slamming as well as multiple people stomping their feet on the ground, or as he’d like to describe it, “marching band sounds.” But upon further inspection, he found no signs of intrusion, and the floor was fully carpeted to have produced such a sound. It was also impossible to have slammed the door this loud as their dog, Harry, would sleep right in front of it.
It only got worst after that
George’s behavior started becoming obsessive. He’d wake up around 3 – 3:30 AM on most nights and would often complain about the house being cold, because of which he’d keep the fire running in the fireplace for a longer period of time. George would wake up and keep checking up on the children and the boathouse, again and again.
Now, we’ve all heard of 3:30 AM being the Devil’s Hour but, did you know, it has also been speculated that it was also around this time when Ronnie DeFeo had murdered his entire family as well? Talk about coincidences!
Being a very serious case at the time, most of the information was kept private and only the police knew about it. But there was someone else who got to know the top-secret information and that was Kathy. She started having vivid dreams about the murders and even things such as the order of the killings, which was never disclosed to the general public. It did not just stop there for her. She could also feel as if she was being embraced by someone and smelled cheap perfume! This was happening even when George wasn’t present in the house. Yikes!
But what we’re finding creepy, Kathy found it comforting. Even though she could not comprehend what was happening and had trouble explaining it to her husband, he still believed her.
George and Kathy weren’t the only ones who could hear the banging noises, their guests witnessed it, too.
Melissa Lutz Aka Missy
It’s common for children to have imaginary friends. In fact, many children report having imaginary friends throughout their lives, while a majority of the children only have imaginary friends for a short time in their lives. Like so, Kathy’s children also had imaginary friends in the past but it was different with Missy!
Missy’s imaginary friend was named Jodie and according to her, he could shapeshift into an angel or a pig. Melissa came to Kathy and asked her if angels could talk, that’s how she got to know that Missy has a weird imaginary friend. What was more worrisome for both Kathy and George was when Missy had claimed that “Jodie told her that they would live in that house forever.”
By Christmas of 1975, the number of strange things that kept happening had increased. And though, it wasn’t the end of it all, George saw a demonic-looking pig type creature with red eyes in Missy’s room, through a window. However, upon arriving in the room, it had vanished. There were no traces of the demonic pig.
The Red Room
The red room was located in the basement of the Amityville house. What’s odd is that this room was not drawn in the blueprints of the house. It was sort of like a secret room with a very questionable entrance; from behind a bookshelf. This room was found by Kathy when she was organizing the storage.
This room was so eerie, it was painted bright red and had a very distinct stench, which was quite repulsive. It was so creepy, Harry ran straight out of the basement which was very odd behavior for a dog of his nature; curious.
The Sewing Room
This room, though may seem nothing out of the ordinary, shook even the priest, Father Ray, who came to bless the house initially. The sewing room belonged to the 2 DeFeo brothers Ronnie had murdered.
During the time of the blessing, Father Ray had felt unnaturally cold and claimed that someone had slapped him and told him to “get out.” However, he did not inform the family right away about what had happened. He had simply told them to avoid the room, and not spend as much time there. And later on, when he wanted to tell them the details, both Father Ray and the Lutz family could not get in touch with one another due to the telephone line being broken into static.
Most of us might remember the scene where Father Ray had blisters on his hands of which the doctor had claimed that it was due to anxiety.
The blessing of the house
Immediately after George and Kathy had realized something was wrong with the house, they attempted to bless it. Not once, but twice!
The first time they had done it, by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and asking ‘spirits’ to leave, they actually got a response! They had heard voices saying “Will you stop?” And after that, things only got worse.
Odd things started leaking out of the walls, the texture of which was gelatin-like, in green color. Things moved on their own, the most common of all was the rocking chair rocking on its own, Kathy’s 12-inch crucifix smelling like rotten flesh, doors opening on its own, and many other unexplainable events. It has also been reported that Kathy and George felt something levitating that got into their bed, and even feeling the weight and its breath. Their dog, Harry, would also walk around in circles and keep throwing up.
Flies swarming the place again and again. The entire family’s relationship being affected badly with one another, and a negative change in their personalities.
The short stay
All of these events had happened in only 28 days after which the Lutz family had decided to leave. It was on the day of their 2nd attempt at blessing the house, January 14th, 1976, when they had fled for their lives. It was never disclosed what had happened that day, just that they couldn’t wait any longer for things to get better. It was also reported that they constantly had the urge not to leave. But fortunately, they did anyway. And while doing so, George recalled seeing a hooded figure “shaped like a Ku Klux Klansman without the face”. And it wasn’t his first time seeing this man.
They wanted to come back to fix whatever evil was in their house, but wisely, they never did. Not even for their belongings! They had left and didn’t look back. But even so, the evil things hadn’t left them!
Ed & Lorraine Warren
We all know about Ed and Lorraine Warren, demonologists, and paranormal investigators. We grew up hearing their stories and watching movies made on their spiritual adventures. One of the places they had investigated for paranormal activity was 112 Ocean Avenue. A month after the Lutz had fled, on the 24th of February, 1976, they visited the newly abandoned house. The Lutz family was also asked to accompany the Warrens but they refused to do so.
Lorraine Warren, as we all know, has the ability to communicate with spirits, a phenomenon known as being clairvoyant. She could sense extreme sadness and depression in the house. Ed Warren, on the other hand, could also sense the same things and reported seeing shadows, lights, and an eerie presence in the basement.
They had 2 sessions in the house to contact the spirits, one of them at 3:15 AM, in the sewing room, and the other in the basement.
The news channel
10 days after their initial visit on the 6th of March, 1976, the Warrens came back again. This time with a reporter from Channel 5 News, Michael Linder. It was then reported that Ed was physically pushed into the floor after having made contact with the spirit, or in other words, provoking it with religious chants. Lorraine meanwhile, saw detailed visions of the DeFeo murders as Kathy had in her dreams, and she also felt a demonic presence.
The figure in the picture
Gene Campbell, a photographer, also accompanied the team. He set up infrared cameras inside the house that automatically captured pictures if there were any movements. On the 2nd floor of the house, coming out of Melissa or Missy’s bedroom, an odd figure was captured by the cameras (on the left).
The figure that resembles a child, but with luminescent eyes could be seen poking its head out of the bedroom. However, there were no children present in the house. This, according to Lorraine, was just a demonic entity that had shapeshifted to look like a child.
Daniel Lutz, the eldest son of the Lutz family.
He is a stonemason living in the Queens and to this day, he still has nightmares about his trauma from the house, since his childhood. He was only 9-years old when the Lutz had moved to the house. According to Daniel, his entire family was apparently possessed with the evil spirits or entities and they had tried to run away from it their entire lives. They did not want to accept this reality. And after suffering for almost 40 years, Daniel had finally agreed to tell his story in a documentary.
Initially though, in 1977, 20th of August, Kathy and George had signed a book deal with Jay Anson, the author of “The Amityville Horror”, to tell their story. They faced a lot of backlashes, criticizing them for telling a fake story for money, but the evidence and the lawsuit were too significant to be ignored. The Amityville Horror then become the best-selling book and many movies were made following the book release.
The End Result
112 Ocean Avenue remained empty for 7 months. The Lutz family did not want to sell it off to another family, they didn’t want someone else to suffer at the hands of all the evil that possessed the house. And so, the house was sold to the bank.
Both George and Kathy eventually separated in the ’80s and became religious. George converted to Catholicism because according to him, his Catholic faith had made him strong enough to have handled the hauntings.
Today, the house is still there. Though it is now 108 instead of 112. There have not been any reports of paranormal activity for some time, but it still remains a house where the tragedy took place. It is unknown if any more families had moved in, or if other people had experienced something similar.
But we do know that if we ever got the chance to go there ourselves, we would think a hundred times. I know I would. Have you ever seen the house or heard stories about it? Or even something similar? Let us know in the comments section. Maybe yours could be another story we feature!